Those who haven't heard of Tyron Woodley need only wait a couple years more before this ultra-talented former wrestler is mentioned among the likes of the best in the welterweight division. The lightning quick undefeated super-prospect out of St. Louis has taken the MMA world by storm, going a combined 12-0 in his amateur and professional career.
The former high school state wrestling champion went undefeated his senior season, ending his year at an astounding 48-0 en route to a successful stint as a University of Missouri Tiger where he was a two-time All-American.
While Woodley's impeccable wrestling credentials have certainly drawn a lot of attention, it is the 27-year-old's striking that really strikes fear in the heart of his opponents. Woodley has lightning fast hands, excellent footwork, and power to boot. The ferocious American Top Team product sets a blistering pace, keeping opponents gasping for breath while he stalks them with the speed and precision of a Tiger.
At 5-0, the budding welterweight superstar looks to end criticism over the lack of depth in Strikforce's welterweight division and build a solid fan base in the process. He recently sat down with Tommy Kail of FiveKnuckles.com to discuss his where he's come from, his upcoming fight at tomorrow's Strikeforce Challenger's event, and his ambitions for the future of his potentially brilliant MMA career.
FiveKnuckles.com: What sparked your interest in MMA?
Tyron Woodley: I was a wrestler at the University of Missouri and I was always very competitive. My goal in college was to be the national champion and I left without accomplishing my mission. Upon graduating in 2005, I was an assistant wrestling coach for Mizzou and I still had the desire to compete. I was also trying to make the national team at 153 which was a tough weight for me. I felt there was a lot of politics involved with the whole process so I was deterred from continuing. I was a fan of The Ultimate Fighter and I watched MMA on television. At that point, I began to see that wrestlers were doing exceptionally well in the sport and I wanted a piece of the pie. I figured my explosive style of wrestling and my work ethic would transfer over, so MMA was the logical next move.
FiveKnuckles.com: Did anybody in particular open the door for you to get started?
Tyron Woodley: I actually just walked down the street to the local gym. They were promoting a fight event in a couple weeks and I told them I wanted on the card. The guy in there recognized me because he was a fan of Mizzou wrestling and had a poster of the team on the wall with my picture on it. From there, I had a couple weeks of training to get ready. In my first fight, I choked my opponent out in about 20 seconds. My next fight I did the same thing in about a minute. My first three or four fights went pretty quick. I was very comfortable in that environment so I was immediately hooked.
FiveKnuckles.com: You come from a rather large family being number 11 out of 13 children. What are some of the values you've learned from growing up in those circumstances?
Tyron Woodley: I would say that I learned pretty quickly not to take things for granted. My family got by with limited resources because we were always looking...